Hey there. It's Susan Peirce Thompson, and this is not the weekly vlog. This is an emergency vlog coming out on Friday. I believe that it has been years since something heavy, kind of dramatic has come down that has driven me to shoot a vlog midweek. To share something with you that just felt like it couldn't wait. But this is such a circumstance, so thank you for your time.
I have blown it, and I'm here to make amends. What's happened this week isÉthis has been the book launch week of ON THIS BRIGHT DAY: A Year of Reflections for Lasting Food Freedom. It's a beautiful book, and the community is loving it. Something has felt off about this book launch, kind of from the beginning. I think the community has sensed it. I've sensed it. Just two days ago, exactly what it is came to the surface. It came to the surface in a tiny little forum called Lunchtime Live.
Basically, I held Lunchtime Lives for an hour a day, every day at lunchtime, Eastern Time, starting Tuesday with the official publication of the book. People were invited, who'd bought five or more copies of the book. Then the only people there were also the people who could make it live. It was a pretty small group, I think maybe 30, 35 people, some of whom were on the Bright Line Eating¨ team.
On Tuesday, book launch day, we had no special guest. It was just me communicating with people, sharing with people. At some point, pretty early on in the hour, I noticed that JoAnn Campbell-Rice, one of the Bright Line Eating team members who had a big part in this book, was in the room. In the Zoom Room. So, I invited her up. I invited her to share her video, and come up and talk with me, and share with people about her contribution to the book. It felt only fitting.
In that environment of being face-to-face with her, even on Zoom, her face was right there, and I was right there talking with her. It was the first time we had ever spoken one-on-one like that about this book. I found myself acknowledging a Part of me that had been trying to get my attention for a long time. It was a Part of me that was not fully acknowledged by my conscious self, but it had been ... Does this ever happen to you? Where a Part of you is trying to tell you something, but it's not fully conscious yet?
It's kind of simmering there, and it's a thought that happens to you, but it's not conscious yet. Some other Part of you maybe pushes it down. That's the experience that I had. But in this setting, it was allowed to speak, this Part of me. What it said was, what I found myself saying was, "JoAnn, a Part of me has been wondering and trying to get me to notice why you're not a co-author on this book."
The conversation started there. I asked her about her thoughts about that, and we ended up talking about it. There was a whole evolution in my thoughts about it through talking out loud. I'm an extrovert, an extreme extrovert. So, I process out loud. As we started talking about it, it started to unfold. And, oh my gosh, that conversation sent us each on a tailspin. I have no idea what the experience was like for the two, three dozen people who experienced it live.
But I went away and was a little bit stunned like, why isn't JoAnn Campbell-Rice a co-author on this book? She should be. She should be. When I finally allowed myself to shine a flashlight into that corner of the recesses of my mind, what I saw really made a lot of sense. But, it's a whole story that kind of unfolded.
Essentially, I have been hiding from myself what the whole experience of writing and publishing books has been like. Because there's an aspect to it that has been painful for me in a way that a Part of me has been suppressing. And it's been reactivated this week.
Specifically, I have never shared with you, I've been hiding from myself and therefore hiding from you, that I have had way more help writing the Bright Line Eating books than I have ever shared with you. On the Lunchtime Live today, I had Nicola Krause as my guest, my special guest, and she is the woman who's been helping me write all these books.
She has a business called The Finished Thought. She's incredible. Nicola Kraus is the author of The Nanny Diaries with her best friend, Emma McLaughlin. They wrote that number one New York Times bestselling book, that of course became a major motion picture. And then I think nine other books to together.
Now she's a professional writer, and she's also a professional writing support person. She helps authors get their books into the world. Authors who need various levels of support, whatever it is. She's a whiz. She's a genius. She's delightful. She's one of my favorite people in the whole world.
But when I first got my agent to write the book, Bright Line Eating, my agent, Lucinda Blumenfeld is one of Nicola Kraus's best friends, and very close, dear friend, and suggested to me, "Susan, you might want to get Nicola's support with the book." To which I remember saying, "No, no, no. I'm a great writer. I'll be fine. She said, "Well, you're very busy though. You might want to get some support."
I reached out to Nicola. I loved her. We decided to work together. She flew to Rochester. She recorded me talking about my story, and about what was going to go into this book for hours, and hours, and hours. Then she flew home, and that was, it turns out ... I just discovered this today through talking with Nicola, and this is super painful and emotional for me.
This was early September of 2015 that she flew to Rochester and we talked, and she was going to help me write this book. What happened then was that the first Food Freedom launch of 2015 happened, and the Bright Line Eating email list mushroomed over the course of that month, September of 2015, from 10,000 people to 110,000 people. And 2,500 Boot Campers flooded into the bootcamp later that month.
In the span of about six weeks, I think I hired 20 people, literally hired 20 people to help me serve this community. She watched my life get taken over. I watched my life get taken over. Over those next two or three or four weeks, I found myself saying, "Nicola, I don't think I can write the first draft of this book." She said, "I can do that. Let me help you. We can figure that out."
I flew to Brooklyn where she lives, and we sat in her office and mapped out the book together. We got every bit of the Bright Line Eating Boot Camp transcribed. She watched every video, we got all my webinars transcribed, and then we spent countless hours of me filling her in on the studies that I needed included, and all of this. She's the one who took three or four months, 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, nine to five, writing the first draft of that book.
When it was done, I went on a writer's retreat for three weeks and holed up. Maybe it took longer than three months, because I don't think it was until June the next year that I went on Writer's Retreat. So it was a long time that she worked on that first draft.
Then I went on Writer's Retreat for three weeks, sleepless nights and round the clock work, rewrote almost all of chapter one, my story, or the introduction or whatever we called it, the part that was my story. Then just worked on it, and made it ... I was surprised at how good it was and made it what it needed to be.
In September of 2015, when my life was exploding and I had to make that decision, Nicola, I don't think I can write the first draft of this book. That was so painful to a Part of me that it became, in Internal Family Systems parlance, an exile. A wounded Part that then had a very firm Protector Part protecting her. A Protector Part that said, just like everyone in the industry was telling me, "Everyone does this. Nobody's writing their books from scratch on their own. It's absolutely common."
Nicola and I did have a conversation about authorship, and she said it was fine for her not to be an author on the front cover. And of course, she's featured prominently in the acknowledgements and all that. That was all contractual, that was all agreed upon. But I was hiding it. I didn't want to admit it to myself.
Because I had a deeply held vision of writing that book from scratch myself. It would've taken years, and I don't think it would've been as good, and it wouldn't have been the book that it is now. It would've just been different. It might've been as good, but it would just have been different. It would've at least taken, I think, two years of full-time work for me to do it. I'm not an experienced writer. I've never written a book before like that.
And the kind of ... I'm an auditory processor, the kind of leaving her voice memos that then got transcribed so my words could go into the draft. That was actually the most helpful thing. She was writing from my words, primarily, but transcriptions of my words. So, when people say, I hear your words on the page, that's because they were transcribed from my words, often. It's a lot, how I talk, right?
But I didn't want any of that to be true. It just was what had to happen for that book to get published. It wouldn't have gotten published any other way. I was talking about all of this, this vlog that I'm shooting now, to someone at Hay House, my publisher who told me, "Susan," she said, "I don't think any book this year that we've published was written in that idealized way you're talking about." She said, "Some books are still written that way. Not many nonfiction books. But in that single author, alone in a cabin, fingers on the keyboard." She said, "We haven't published a single book this year that's written like that. They're all written with professional writing support, help, and it's a sausage making process. And of course, the editor plays a huge role in it, and some people have multiple people helping them, etc."
I mean, for that first book, Nat Denkin helped find a lot of those citations that I had lost track of over the years. It was very much a joint effort.
Nicola Kraus helped with the first book, the Cookbook, Rezoomª, and at that point I was in a zone of having a first draft compiled from my transcripts and my words, and we would always meet together for an initial session to map out the chapters. Then I would give them all the content, give Nicola all the content that would go into the chapters. Rezoom was, of course, co-authored with Everett, and he wrote the sections that are at the end of each chapter. But Nicola helped co-write all of that as well, edit it and so forth.
Fast-forward to ON THIS BRIGHT DAY, years ago, I knew that was a book that needed to exist, and I asked JoAnn Campbell-Rice on my Bright Line Eating team if she wanted to tackle the project of coming up with topics. As I described to her my vision, it wasn't just topics. I also envisioned a title for each page, and then a quote. Then a blurb, and then a mantra at the bottom, like a message to send you home with.
I gave her all of that as structure. She went away, and she created the most exquisite spreadsheet. With every day of the year laid out in rows and columns, and the quote, the blurb, the mantra, all of it laid out. She delivered it within three months. Then it sat there for a couple years before I picked up the project.
Then at that point, JoAnn had no involvement. After that, she created this initial amazing spreadsheet, and two years later, when I tackled the project, what she had created was so good. The quality of it was so exquisite that I think, I just looked. There were only, I think five, out of 366. There are only five days that I scrapped all together. Said, I don't like this topic, this one's going in the trash. The rest I used. The rest were amazing. Or they needed work, but they were really good.
Then what happened was, I went day, by day, by day and created voice memos with, I read what JoAnn had come up with, and I would create a voice memo that said, "Okay, I like this topic. I don't like that quote. Here's a different quote I've found or find a different quote."
In terms of the blurb, it needs to add this and this to flesh out that topic a little bit. The science is this. And I just rewrote the mantra so that it's more what I want to say. Or I'd create a voice memo that says, "For this topic, I really like everything that's there. I like the topic, I like the blurb, I like the mantra. I like the quote. The only thing I might add is, blah."
Nicola took all those voice memos and created a first draft of the actual pages of the book. She then sent that to me. I poured over it with a fine-toothed comb, edited it. Our editor, Lisa Chang, had huge suggestions actually, all along the way. And forced us to rewrite with a different tone to a lot of it. It was not aspirational enough; it was not uplifting enough. Some of it was too heavy. So, we had to go through and kind of lift it up a little bit.
When folks in the publishing industry call it a sausage-making process with a lot of cooks in the kitchen, it is. It's a sausage making process, getting a book published. I never wanted you to know any of this. I have a wounded, tender little Part of me that just wanted to be in a cabin writing my own book.
I have no doubt that there's going to be people watching this vlog that are horrified, that this is how those books came about. That did imagine me, fingers on the keyboard, writing all the drafts of all the books. Being the one who did all of that in that way. And it's not how it happened. It's not how it happened.
When I think back to the fateful month of September of 2015, and what happened in my life as the Bright Line Eating movement exploded tenfold, 2,500 people came into our community. Every tech system we had broke, and I had a team member check into the hospital that month, vomiting blood from a stress ulcer. It was stressful, beyond. I had to move into a hotel room because I couldn't even be a mother for five minutes during some of that month.
When I think about where I was at when I had to make the call of "Nicola, actually, could you write the first draft of this book?" It's no wonder to me that a very fierce Protector Part of me was born to protect that wounded Part that never wanted to let anyone else write any of that first book.
That Protector Part has been so fierce, that I've never seen any of this until this week. This is all news to me, folks. This is all news to me. I've done a lot of crying over it. God bless my sweet Protective Parts. I just never wanted to share any of this with you.
What I've mainly been hiding from myself, because of all this inner conflict inside of me that was buried until this week, is that I couldn't see, clearly, the difference between JoAnn Campbell-Rice's contribution and Nicola Kraus's contributions.
Now, Nicola Kraus's contributions are stupendous. If anyone out there is looking to publish a book, I suggest you hire her. Because your project will be more joyful, and more polished, and more on-deadline than you could ever imagine. She makes writing books so great.
And she's a hired gun. She is a professional who knows nothing on her own about the psychology and neuroscience of sustainable weight loss, or recovery from food addiction, or recovery in general. It's not her wheelhouse. She is literally, literally a one on the Susceptibility Scaleª. Literally a one. Such people exist. She is a one; that is the lowest number. It's not a zero, there is no zero. She's a one.
Nicola wrote from a framework that we created together, but all of my content in those slots, right? Here's what goes here, here's what goes here, here's what goes here. Here are the transcripts, here are the voice memos. Put it together.
In contrast, JoAnn Campbell-Rice created a first draft from scratch. From herself. And she is a subject matter expert. Before working for Bright Line Eating, she's been with us for years now. Before that, she spent 10 years employed by Hazelden Betty Ford, the renowned world-famous Recovery Center, where she was a Spiritual Director creating programs, and teaching, and lecturing, and counseling. And supporting people on their addiction recovery journeys for 10 years.
She's decades sober herself in recovery. This is her life's work. She wants to be a writer; she is a writer. She's got words pouring out of her. That's the difference. JoAnn Campbell-Rice should have been a co-author on this project. It's wrong, and it's a mistake that I made. A very, very big mistake that I made, that she's not a co-author on this project.
Lest this vlog be all about me talking to you, I want to introduce you to JoAnn Campbell-Rice. Because she's been on a journey herself this week, with all of these revelations. Just about an hour ago, I spoke with her on Zoom, so you could take a listen. So please meet JoAnn Campbell-Rice.
JoAnn Campbell-Rice, welcome.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
On Tuesday, on book publication week, you and I had a really intense heart-to-heart talk on the Lunchtime Live.
And bit of an audience, yeah.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
And it came out of left field for me. I'm guessing it came out of left field for you too. What was that like for you?
Well, the left field part started when you said, do you want to come on camera? I was like, okay. I was wearing fleece and a T-shirt. And Tara, my supervisor, said, "I saw that, and I was like, you weren't ready. Because you never look like that on camera." I was like, no. Took the hat off. So that was the first left field.
Then it was just this amazing conversation that really evolved from a discussion of our process to you acknowledging that you've had this sort of feeling that I should have been a co-author, which landed really in my heart. Then by the end, you said it was a mistake that I wasn't a co-author.
That was a real powerful statement that freed something in me. Because I kind of felt that too, but I'd never said anything. I was just sort of like, okay, okay. And, wow. For me, it was a little, any remaining resentment, quite honestly, kind of got just away. It's like, oh, she sees it. She sees it. Thank you.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
I'm imagining as you say that, that all the previous times, and there were many that I praised you on the team. I would send out these things like, oh my gosh, I'm finally writing this book and I'm discovering JoAnn Campbell-Rice is so amazing.
Is it true then, that that landed and mixed for you? On the one hand, thank you for the acknowledgement. On the other hand, why aren't I pulled into this process more? Or, I feel like I'm a ghostwriter, but you're going to get all the credit here. Was there that part too, all through that?
I don't know that it was ever all that on the surface, conscious. Although I know when I started the process, which was ... I finished this draft four years ago, this month, so that's how long.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
No way. Really?
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Four years ago. Wow.
2019 was when you invited me to do it in August and said, "We'll need it by the end of October."
And I was like, "I'm on it." And it was done, and then nothing came. But I remember talking to a very experienced writer about the request. She said, "Well, you're going to get credit. You don't do this without that." I just said, "I'm not even going to cross that bridge yet."
I didn't want to think about the credit in the creative process. Because the creative process was such a joy. And felt kind of just like this opportunity to create, and every single thing that I know. And it's funny because my sister and a couple of people in my Mastermind group who knew me back then remember how excited I was. And how I would say, "Got half of a month done today."
It was not a struggle, and it wasn't anything I didn't want to sit down and do. That, in itself, was such a joy. There was just a puzzle part to it. Well, let's just see. And really in some ways, Susan, I'm just realizing this now, you may have freed me up to do my best work because my name wasn't expected to be on it. I just didn't have any performance anxiety. I was like, oh, okay, I can do this. And I'd just give it to you.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Throw it together, someone else will make it right.
Lower stakes. I'm just going to create something; it's going to be good enough because they'll handle it from there. And there's a deadline, right? Okay.
I love deadlines. I always have deadlines.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Boom, boom, boom. It's got to be done.
I can imagine, right? Because you are a writer. I'm imagining a lot of the rest of what you're writing isn't always that free to come out, but maybe sometimes it is. But it sounds like this was a pretty singularly free creative experience just pouring out of you.
Right, and just the format. I had to do 365 of them. Then you said, "And I want maybe 10, 15 others, just because I might not like these."
I'm like, okay. So I got to do more than 365. The volume just means I'm not polishing every last pearl. It's like, oh, here's an idea, put it on. Because there's room for another. What I keep learning, it's a little bit like I write the opening paragraph for this week and Bright Line Eating every week. We come up with themes, and I write them, and they don't take a lot of time. I do a month's worth when it's time.
I was talking about that. It's like, how long have we been doing that? That's 52 a year, and we've been doing that for about three years. I mean, that's its own little project. That, the bottom line is, this stuff is passing through me. Like all recovery information. It's not any one person's. We're conveyors of the lore, and the wisdom traditions, and the experience of thousands.
If it comes out as somebody who has a facility with words, great. I never struggle with words. I type up the accountability things in a heartbeat. And they're like, boom, I'm done. There's just not a lot of space between the word and what gets typed on the page for me.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Yeah, yeah, totally. And how are you feeling now about it all? Now that we're at this stage of the game?
I'm feeling so happy. So happy. Really, really happy. And loving that I'm trusting this whole process. I didn't push this river, this happened. Now, could this, I forget, somebody on one of our calls said, "Y'all should have had this conversation several months ago."
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Yeah. I've been mentioning that to myself a few times in the last 48 hours. Could have thought of this a little sooner.
But we could say that for anything. Thinking about people who are in the ditch and now they're Bright. And you're like, why didn't I do this months ago, years ago? Well, it takes what it takes. That's true for good ideas, and that's true for expanded health, and that's true for the next level of intimacy. And it's just, I don't know. I'm just not going to question timing. I'm not in charge of timing. I get to bring the best of me. That said, you and I had this conversation. I have wondered, and I had a dark night of the soul just two nights ago, why did I never even ask for this? Because to me, that's the question I had to sit with. Why did I not ask? Then I had to look at this long string of events in my life where I didn't ask for what I wanted. Every single one of them has had a not fabulous consequence.
Susan Peirce Thompson:
It's a pattern for you, not speaking up for what you most want in life.
The trouble is, sometimes if a person has been socialized that way and has that pattern, I stop looking for what I want. Because I'm not going to say it anyway, and it's less painful. So, then I don't do the self-inquiry about, what do I really want here? That's a kind of alienation that requires consolation prizes, often in the form of addictions. Right?
Susan Peirce Thompson:
Yeah. And I want you to know that from my vantage point, the power differential between us, because I am your boss and you, my employee, is a very silencing power dynamic. It's very hard to speak up into power. It's very hard. I am learning that there's huge responsibility. Having the amount of power that I have, I have to look extra careful, and carefully. Scan, what am I missing? What am I not seeing? Because people won't necessarily be able to voice it. I blew it. I missed this one. I missed this one, and I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.
Obviously, this is a sad, tragic, emotional, and maybe relieving, and beautiful in its own way, kind of thing. Before I sign off, I want to answer the question, what next? I mean, I've shot this vlog as an amends. What else can be done about this? The book is published this week, and what I have asked Hay House to do is to look into whether JoAnn can be included as an author now.
The person who can answer that question definitively is away from their desk until November 6th. So, I won't have a firm answer to that. But here's some of the questions I have, right? Once an ISBN, that's a book number, a unique book identifier number has been issued, can you change things like the authorship after that date?
You might think, well, it should be easy to change it for a Kindle edition and an audible edition. But if you think about how books are sold on Amazon, those are all the same book, right? It's like kindle edition, audible edition, hardcover, paperback, all in a little cube. And they have to be a matching cover. It has to be one, self-same book.
The second printing has actually already happened. The second printing has already been printed. It's going to probably, I don't know, but it might be years before those books are sold through. So, if anything can be done in that regard, it's going to be a big job, and it will take years, probably. But I am committed to doing it if it can be done. I want her to be a co-author on this book.
I know that whenever the next printing happens, whenever that may be, I can for sure change the acknowledgements. I know that much, to set the record straight very, very clearly. If you look at the acknowledgements now, the first chunk of it is all about JoAnn Campbell-Rice already, and the contributions she made. But they don't say the words, you should be a co-author, right? They don't say that.
I think beyond that, doing my best there and releasing this vlog, which hopefully will make this book launch week a whole different experience for JoAnn Campbell-Rice, I'm imagining it's been painful for her watching this book get released into the world without the credit that she deserves for its creation.
So, beyond changing the tone and the tenor of this book launch week, I'm just going to make a stand for this whole experience having some kind of positive impact for JoAnn. And maybe for others too, maybe for me. Some kind of positive impact, maybe for you.
Because life is messy, right? And we mess up. And we cannot change one minute of the past, and we only see things when we see them. Even if we should have seen them, sometimes we just don't see them until we do. Here's to making it right. From the minute, from the very minute that we can.
These conversations just happened in the last 48 hours. I've been working as hard and as fast as I can to wake up, ramify, talk to all the affected people, and get ready to put this out into the world to let you know. JoAnn Campbell-Rice, I am sorry. I blew it. I wish that we'd had the experience of co-creating the rest of the editing process together of this book. I love you, and I will be gentle with myself and find the Part of me that has been grieving my book creation experience in a very similar way that I grieve my motherhood experience. Not that it's not amazing, and just as it should be.
But I had fantasies of holding a baby in my arms and breastfeeding them that never came to pass, because what ended up happening was an emergency C-section four months before the babies were due, and months in neonatal intensive care. Not breastfeeding, just a lot of being in the hospital with very, very sick babies. Who are thriving today as teenagers, 15 year olds in high school.
I had another baby trying to have the motherhood experience that I thought I would one day have, only to get infections and milk ducts on both sides, and excruciating back pain, and to have to stop breastfeeding almost immediately. And vomiting bloody ulcers from the pain meds, the NSAIDs that I was taking for the pain for the C-section. It was just a mess. My second pregnancy was a mess too. I have three beautiful kids and two very, very traumatic pregnancies.
Working with Nicola was not traumatic, on the books. But during the time that I made the decision to not actually craft the first draft of the first book, that was traumatic for me. For me. I've been hiding it ever since. I don't think that it's relevant to me that this is the way it's always done, and all the books are created this way, and blah, blah, blah. That Part of me doesn't feel comfort in that.
But what I do feel comfort in is that I feel tremendously proud of each and every one of these books. They're beautiful, they're helpful. I love them. I really do believe that they're exactly the books that they need to be. The fact that the book-writing process wasn't maybe the ideal? Okay. I'll tell you a secret. I still hold a fantasy in my heart that I will, by myself, maybe in a cabin somewhere, put my fingers on the keyboard and write my memoir someday. But you know what? It's possible that I won't. It's possible that I'll hire Nicola, and we'll write it together, because it's so much more fun that way. It's possible.
Who knows? I know that my dear friend Ron Friedman, who's a lot like me, he's got some books and he's got an online platform. He confided in me over lunch the other, it was a long time ago, maybe a couple of years ago, that he was just trying to get his online courses evergreen so that he didn't have to touch them so that he could spend nonstop writing his books.
I was horrified. I was like, "You just want to write?"
He's like, yeah, "I'm really just an author."
I'm like, "You are?"
He's like, "Yeah."
I remember thinking, oh, not me. That is not my choice of how to spend my time. I am a teacher, is what I am. I'm a mentor, I am a teacher. I want to lead, and help change the world, through being in front of people and conveying a message. I do not want to be behind a desk writing. That is not where I want to be. I remember having that thought.
We'll see if I'll ever do that memoir thing. But anyway, I digress. JoAnn, I love you. I'm sorry. To you watching and listening, thank you for your time and your attention.
Hear ye, hear ye, JoAnn Campbell-Rice is in every way that matters, a co-author and co-creator of the book ON THIS BRIGHT DAY: A year of Reflections for Lasting Food Freedom. I love you. That's this emergency vlog. I'll see you next Wednesday.
10-27-23_EMERGENCY VLOG - Setting the Record Str... (Completed 10/27/23)
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